Life on Mars? (Part Two)

mars2“Is there life on Mars?”, asks the late David Bowie. Bowie’s question isn’t about the prospects of extraterrestrial life on the fourth planet from the sun. Bowie’s question can be rephrased in this way: “Is there rational, meaningful life on Earth?” Many of Bowie’s songs were about those who were misfits, the disaffected, and the lonely, wandering outcasts of the greater, “normal” society around them. We have this before us in the first verse of “Life on Mars?”,  Read the rest of this entry »

Life on Mars? (Part One)

In honor of his passing, the title of this posting comes from David Bowie’s song, “Life on Mars?”  Lyrically, the song is both meaningful and quirky, and the refrain of the song furthers the question, “Is there life on Mars?”  But, Bowie’s song has nothing to do with this first of two postings with the same title.

“Is there life on Mars?”  The origin of the question of this first part of posting comes from another source: the mid-late nineteenth century telescopic observation of Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli.  He observed canali on the Martian surface, yet never proposed any cause for his observation.  Others also observed the same phenomenon, or so they thought.  The appearance of canals was proven decades later to be an optical illusion when better telescopes were developed in the early twentieth century.  However, in the latter decades of the nineteenth century, speculation of a civilization on Mars emerged in more popular articles.  Such a fiction persisted until proven impossible when the harsh physical conditions on the Red Planet were discovered in the early twentieth century.   Read the rest of this entry »